Friday, September 30, 2011

Three thankful things...

about this last day of September:

- Flip-flop sunshine, orange leaves falling from the trees, and air heavy with the smell of wood smoke, all at once

- The mama and her fawn that have been making themselves at home in our backyard all afternoon

-Leaving the house this morning under this:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Where the river meets pickle relish

Today I needed to go on a date. I needed, in this exact order, some very good, quality time with my husband, to be in the middle of this crazy beautiful weather, and to eat a cheeseburger.

Fortunately, Jan Michael cheerfully agreed to this even though his date has not taken a shower or brushed her teeth since yesterday.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Cupcake Friday!

First things first: Today's recipe is from The Cupcake Deck by Elionor Klivans. The Apple Streusel Cinnamon Swirls from two weeks ago are from the same set. Actually, the next 6 recipes I plan to play with come from The Cupcake Deck; it's such a fun collection! And whoever thought to put recipes on cute little cards instead of in big, cumbersome books gets a thumbs up from me!

Now a word regarding lemon/orange/lime zesters: They are fantastic. Everyone else has probably known this for years, but I just bought my first one in June; it leaves my poor cheese grater in the dust. Gone are the days of gnashing my teeth when I see a frosting recipe that calls for 2 tsp of zest!

Also, two quick notes about these cupcakes: Every other recipe I've made says to use either cupcake papers or to spray the muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. This recipe says to use papers coated in spray, and it's not kidding. I did as I was told, and it was still tough to peel the cupcakes out of the liners. Then, just like the Apple Struesel Cinnamon Swirls, these are much more muffin-esque in density, but this time we have... frosting! And lots of it! :)

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp grated orange zest (Get out that zester and go to town!)
1 cup finely grated carrots (Hooray for food processors!)
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (about 2 ounces)

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 325. Line 12 muffin cups with liners & spray with non-stick cooking spray. Sift flour - cinnamon into a medium-sized bowl. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar on medium speed until smooth and thick, about 1 minute. Mix in the applesauce - orange zest on low speed. Mix in the flour mixture. Mix in the carrots, raisins & walnuts. Fill each muffin cup with 1/4 cup batter. Bake about 28 minutes, until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean. Place muffin pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pan and cool completely on wire rack. For the frosting, beat the butter, cream cheese & vanilla in a large bowl on low speed until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute. Add powdered sugar, mixing until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute more. Use a large spoon to fold in orange zest. Now, lick and the spoon and then frost away!

Monday, September 19, 2011


has been very, very kind these days, nudging us so merrily from summer into fall. It's this kind of thing that makes it easy-peasy to get my miles in each week :)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cupcake Friday...

becomes Cupcake Saturday because I'm a day late :)

First, I want to give credit where credit is due because this is certainly not my own recipe! I've forgotten the name of the book this came from, though - or actually, the name of the box the recipe card came from. I'll do some digging and figure it out in time for the next edition of Cupcake Friday.

Now, a few notes: These seem more like muffins to me, especially because they don't have frosting. This just means you can eat more and not feel guilty! Also, I always substitute unsweetened applesauce for oil in my baking, mostly in an attempt to feign healthful eating. Again, eat more! This was a really fun recipe to make, and easy-peasy, too. Grating apples goes so much faster than regular, old slicing, and I didn't even need an electric mixer. Not having to wash beaters is a big bonus for lazy me! And one more thing - we didn't have any on hand, but I think apple butter would make these especially yummy. Or pumpkin butter, if you're feeling wild and crazy :)

Swirl & topping:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

1 c peeled, grated apple
2 Tbsp cinnamon sugar from above
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 c applesauce - or canola or corn oil, if you don't fear an expanding bottom :)
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake papers. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon; set aside. In another small bowl, mix together the apples and cinnamon sugar. In a large bowl, stir together the flour - salt. Make a well in the center and add the eggs - vanilla, stirring until blended. Stir in the reserved apple mixture, along with any juice that has been released. Spoon about 2 Tbsp of the batter into each muffin cup. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp cinnamon sugar into each cup. Spoon the remaining batter into each cup, a scant 2 Tbsp for each. Drizzle the tops with melted butter. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon sugar over each. Bake until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cupcakes for 10 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Remove cupcakes to the wire rack to finish cooling completely.

P.S. No pictures again this week because I'm a terrible food photographer. Any pictures I could post would probably make you run screaming from this recipe, and we don't want that :)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Who: The two of us + Eric, Tessa and Miss E
Where: Down the road; it pays to live in the country!
When: Monday, all day long - we even earned our very first sunburns of the summer!
Why: We were hungry for fun, of course! ... And absurdly expensive fair food :)

WHY do we not own one of these?!! Or six or seven?!

Best 4 bucks we spent all day :)

Two carousel rides: $12
One sparkly hat: $6
A chocolate ice cream cone: $2.50
A messy kiss from the cutest-almost-3-year-old-on-the-planet: Priceless :)

Sunday, September 04, 2011


It's no secret that we avoid Seattle like the plague; we're too small-town and it's too big-city. For a day with one of our bros and our sis, though, we'll do just about anything :)

Friday, September 02, 2011

Cupcake Friday!

We're starting a brand new segment here at the JM & H Show - Cupcake Fridays! I decided, after drooling over a collection of cupcake recipes on Wednesday afternoon, that every other week I would institute Baking Thursdays , in which I whip up a batch of something particularly toothsome. Then, because having such things in our house is LETHAL, I will send them off with Jan Michael on Fridays to distribute to everyone at work. So, my insatiable urge to try new recipes is satisfied, and most importantly, we only eat one or two instead of an even dozen!

And before we even get started, I'm changing Cupcake Fridays to Muffin Fridays, because we're celebrating my sis's birthday tomorrow, and she likes muffins better than cupcakes as a general rule. They're very, very tasty, though - they give cupcakes a run for their money; Jan Michael says so, and so do I.

LEMON POPPY SEED MUFFINS (from Williams Sonoma's Muffins - run to the library right now and check this book out!)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp strained fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp coarse raw sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease 10 standard muffin cups with butter or nonstick cooking spray, or line with paper liners. Fill the unused cups one-third full with water to prevent warping.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition until blended.
In another bowl, stir together the flour - salt. Using the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in 2 increments, alternating with the buttermilk, followed by the lemon juice and vanilla. Beat just until smooth.
In a large bowl, using the mixer with spotlessly clean beaters on high speed, beat the egg whites just until they form soft peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold the whites into the batter until blended.
Fill each muffin cup three-fourths full with batter. Sprinkle the top of each with raw sugar.
Bake until golden, dry, and springy to the touch, 20-25 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Unmold the muffins and let cool completely. Serve at room temperature with lemon curd.

A few notes:
1. I just realized that I completely skipped the beating-and-folding-in-egg-whites part. Oops! It didn't seem to make a difference, but next time I'll try not to be such a scatter-brain.
2. I didn't bother with sprinkling raw sugar on the tops.
3. I used 2 mini muffin tins, which yielded 30 muffins, and I baked them for 15 minutes. I also didn't fool around with filling the empty cups with water to prevent warping.
4. I refuse to pay $5 for a tiny jar of lemon curd, and I was too lazy to make my own, so we were sans lemon curd. Really, though, these muffins don't need it!
5. I can't stand cookbooks without pictures, and here I am, sharing a recipe without pictures. Shameful. I will do a better job next time.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Three of my favorites...

from the whirlwind that was the month of August.

I say again that being an uncle and auntie is a very sweet deal.